Community organizing comes naturally to Joy Zhan, the newest program coordinator of Tech Squad, a part of Felton’s Senior Division. Those organizing roots go back as early as high school when in the 11th Grade, she joined the Chinese Progressive Association, advocating for change. For Joy, the first step in building community is to bridge communication gaps.

Joy Zhan, Felton Institute Senior Division

“As the oldest child of an immigrant family, I’m the one my parents went to for help because I can speak English. I was always drawn to social engagement and civic duties. I wanted to make sure other immigrant families weren’t confused as they navigated this new world. I wanted to be that bridge between city resources and city systems for monolingual immigrant families.”

When Joy was seven years old, she immigrated from Taishan, China, and has called San Francisco home ever since. She speaks three Chinese dialects: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Toisan, and some Japanese and Korean. With a double degree in Chinese and Business Economics from UC and experience in political campaigning, she is a strong advocate for seniors. Due to COVID-19, the need for programs like Tech Squad is growing as it focuses on digital literacy training for older adults. Joy helps equip seniors with the confidence to use digital devices. Learning platforms such as Zoom help seniors connected with friends, family, and community to prevent social isolation.

“We help seniors who have difficulty getting online. We teach them how to get on Zoom and basic online communication skills. Our society underestimates our older adult population, and there’s this misconception that they can’t learn. We need volunteers, a special kind of person to challenge that misconception and patiently help those seniors get connected and stay connected with the rest of the community.”

Spending an average of 3 hours of training with each client, Joy recalls an experience with one client who saw her face on Zoom for the first time. “That was a real feel-good moment. And I hope there are more moments like that when more Seniors are getting on Zoom. I like working for Felton because everyone is very supportive. My vision is that we have a multi-generational community supporting older adults, allowing them the attention they deserve.”

In her spare time, Joy doesn’t stray far from the computer. She’s an avid gamer and loves chatting with her friends online. And while she doesn’t consider herself a ‘tech person’, Joy says her love of learning and discovering new things is something she hopes to carry with her throughout life.

For more information about Felton’s new Tech Squad Program, please contact a Tech Squad team member at


About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.

Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult, and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties. Felton’s social services and programs utilize the latest scientific research, combining cultural sensitivity, deep respect for client and staff, and a commitment to social justice.

Felton is the oldest non-sectarian and nonprofit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. For over a century, Felton Institute has been at the forefront of social service innovation, pioneering new approaches to meet underserved populations’ emerging needs. At the heart of our work is the belief that individuals and families in crisis must have access to services and resources to help them build on their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency.